Wednesday, May 14, 2008

111th NCAA Division 1 Golf Championships: West Regional Preview

The West Regional of the 2008 NCAA D1 Golf Championships begins Thursday in Bremerton, WA - home of the Atlanta Hawks' Marvin Williams. Gold Mountain Golf Club's Olympic course will be the venue, a municipal course that has hosted a USGA Championship (the 2006 US Amateur Public Links), but that you or I could walk up and play for less than $50.

Southern California is the #1 seed in the Region, but the Trojans (ranked #3 in Golfweek's latest team rankings) are hardly the runaway favorite. Fellow Pac-1o rivals UCLA (#4) and Stanford (#7), along with the ACC Champion Florida State Seminoles (#10) add to a strong field at Gold Mountain.

2007 NCAA Championship Medalist Jamie Lovemark of USC, headlines the field, and along with teammate Rory Hie, the Trojans will put out the best 1-2 lineup in the Regional.

USC is the pick to win the Regional, and the Pac-1o should dominate. Keep an eye out for Arizona State. The Sun Devils shocked the college golf world by beating USC (as well as 6 other teams in this regional field) at the Pac-10 Championships.

West Regional Predictions (top 10 teams advance to Finals):

1. Southern California: before the stumble at the Pac-10 Championship, Trojans had won previous 2 tournaments against strong fields. Still a young team, but as much talent as you'll find.

2. UCLA: Former junior phenom Philip Francis is the 4th or 5th best player on the Bruins' squad. Senior Kevin Chappell has improved as much as any player in the country over his 4 years in Westwood.

3. Stanford: despite disappointing 5th at Pac-10 Championship, defending NCAA Champion is always a threat. In any sport.

4. Arizona State: surprise winner at Pac-10, Top 2 players are freshmen.

5. Florida State: won 1st ever ACC Title in April. Swedish senior Jonas Blixt should contend for NCAA Medalist honors later this month.

6. Pepperdine: Waves were inconsistent all year, but still trot out 2 of the Top 100 in the nation in freshman Andrew Putnam and senior Jesse Barnsley.

7. UNLV: disappointing 4th at Mountain West Conference championships, but no finish worse than 4th in any tournament since October.

8. San Diego State: since starting season with three wins and four 2nds in first 9 tournaments, posted disappointing 8th, 7th, and 7th in final 3 tournaments of the season.

9. Texas
10. Texas Tech

11. Clemson
12. Oregon State
13. Central Florida
14. California
15. North Carolina
16. Washington
17. Kentucky
18. Oregon
19. St Mary's
20. LSU
21. Kansas State
22. Wisconsin
23. Oklahoma
24. San Diego
25. Denver
26. Navy
27. Columbia

Sleeper: Washington

Medalist: Kevin Chappell, UCLA

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